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Feb 5, 2021

5 min. read

How to reap the benefits of travel, even when you can’t board a plane or cruise ship

2020 was officially the year of going nowhere. With cancelled trips crossed off the calendar, many Manitobans are missing the freedom and joy of travel. But counterintuitive as it may seem, now is a great time to start planning your next trip.

Why? It’s not just the act of travelling itself that makes us happy: Studies show pre-trip anticipation and planning are also big-time mood boosters. Dutch researchers found those engaged in arranging travel reported an increase in happiness that was actually greater than the joy they felt after going on the trip itself. An August 2020 study echoed these findings, with 97 percent of respondents saying trip planning made them happier.

“A sense of purpose is an important aspect of mental health and well-being,” says Nancy Galambos, professor of psychology at the University of Alberta. That’s especially true during a pandemic: “Planning for the future creates a sense of purpose; those who do so are less likely to suffer.”

Galambos says it’s still possible to enjoy some of travel’s positive effects. Perusing guidebooks and online travel content are great ways to stay engaged in the world while waiting out COVID-19. Armchair travel is easier than ever and offers options to suit every taste and destination.

To satisfy your wanderlust at home, visit caamanitoba.com/travel/inspiration to take a virtual vacation. Watch videos and tour online exhibits to see what it’s really like cruising the frozen waters of Antarctica. Or take a virtual 360-degree hike through Peru’s famed Machu Picchu.

For like-you’re-really-there experiences, tune into live webcams. Explore.org hosts live nature cams, where you can watch a Hawaiian sunset, go on an African safari or dive the reefs of Grand Cayman in real-time.

Social media also provides endless travel inspiration, which can boost joy-inducing endorphins. Search for dream destinations, bookmark bucket-list photos and share yours on Instagram @caamanitoba or facebook.com/caatravel.

CAA partner Viking Cruises does home travel right with its varied livestreams and on-demand content on Viking.tv. To tide you over until you can set sail in real life, you can also access curated lists of books, movies and music, tailored to each cruise destination.

Galambos underscores the mental health benefits of trip planning. “It’s hard to make concrete plans right now,” she says. “But making a tentative plan for a year or two down the road will keep you on a healthier path.”

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